A quarterly newsletter, Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL 60466.
A quarterly newsletter published at Governors State University under the auspices of the Provost's Office
©1977, Governors State University and Helen Hughes
Helen E. Hughes, Editor
Martha Hamilton, Editorial Assistant
Joan Lewis, Editorial Consultant
Shirley Katz, Guest Editor
Suzanne Oliver, Graphic Designer
Marilyn Blitzstein, Subscriptions
Rev. Ellen Dohner, Religion and Philosophy of Creativity
Dorothy Freck, Science/Journalism
Harriet Gross, Sociology I Women's Studies
Betye Saar, Fine Arts
Sara Shumer, Political Theory
Helene Guttman, Biological Sciences
Emily Waslolek, Literature
THE MOST INTERESTING LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I wonder if it is possible to use language carefully enough to prevent The
Creative Woman 's autonomic nervous system from slipping into spew.
I do not understand how any reasonable person can doubt in view of the tremen-
dous fecundity of this planet that god embodies the female principle or vice versa,
i f you prefer.
The beneficial effect in terms of accelerating proliferation of species that
the creation of two sexes accomplished has long been freely acknowledged (I think).
I happen to be of the second sex, ancillary but nevertheless essential, now, to
It seems perfectly rational that a primitive male should attempt to remedy his
secondary importance by manipulation of society and creation of alternative religions
to that of the earth goddess. These puerile attempts to invert the natural hierarchy
of the universe should not be of serious concern to any truly educated person.
All of which is a long way around to saying that it saddened me to see The
Creative Woman devote so much space in riposte to masculine shiboleths.
The task a woman faces is, to paraphrase Browning, to rustle her limbs and shake
off the animus constraints within herself. Actually a woman's creativity only seems
blunted — as suggested by the Professor of Linguistics. Man, slyly and with some
concealed amazement at his success, threw a cloak of denigrating words over woman —
thus trying to change subjective reality.
Women were, are now in daily life, and will continue to be fecund physically,
emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Stowe, Woolfe, Cobbe, Nightingale,
Curie, Sands, Dickenson would not, I think feel particularly honored to be singled
out from the millions of women who daily live creatively.
I beg of you do not illustrate, calibrate or compare women's creativity on
scales prepared by men. Women do not achieve creativity because they transcend men.
It is proper that men should seek to create a flood of music, of art, of science, of
poetry, of writing, of things. So, too, will women if they desire. But since my
infancy I have encountered womens creativity in a thousand awarenesses, a thousand
empathies, a thousand thousand dispassionate evocations of reality, and in a myriad
of other intuitions set continuously before me that I may become civilized.
Why is it, do you suppose, that almost all men, and certainly myself, are com-
pelled to seek sexual communication with women? And they to respond? It is under
the direction of the creative fecund plasma of the universe. And I submit that
despite the hideous distortions this culture imposes upon the sexual realm, I am
compelled to seek the sexual companionship of woman that we may be warmed by the non-
cerebral, non-verbal, female source of our existence.
We Kuad and diiuUtizd tki& leXt&A at a Cfizativz Woman ita^ meeting. EueAt/one
had iomtthtng to 6ay. Wo om wai "non-c.eAe.bial" ok "non-veAbal" . We tike. tho. "female
fecundity" pant and alt that. A content fen. ouu\ neadtnA ■ We'll publi&h the "Moit
InteAeAting An&weA" in oua next l&iue.
VOL I. NO 2. FALL 1977
jSlKO on drau>«^ k| fwwc i HUH '
FROM THE EDITOR'S BED
How I Became an Instant Expert
on Female Sexuality....
As usual, I was In bed when the
phone rang. This time someone wanted me
to speak to the South Suburban Woman's
Liberation Group. "On what?" "On any-
thing". "Well, I'm reading the Hite Re-
port now, so I guess I'll speak on female
sexual ity". "Fine".
In my talk I did not deal with:
abortion, birth control, chi I dreari ng,
the ERA, frigidity, Lesbianism, life-
styles, masturbation, menstruation, meno-
pause, pregnancy, prostitution, or rape.
What I did talk about was how we women
have been sold a bill of goods, of con-
tradictory and demeaning stereotypes,
from which we now are struggling to free
ourselves, documenting my ideas by cit-
ing evidence from biology and mythology.
It was fun, for me at least. We are in
a period of transition, of redefinitions,
and we have options.
I will send the list of references
used in preparation of the talk to any-
one who writes to me, requesting it.
Preview of Coming Attractions
With this special issue on Women in
Literature we welcome SHIRLEY KATZ as
guest editor. This is the first in a
series devoted to special themes to be
edited by women with a special interest
and competence in those areas. Katz is
a writer, singer, songwriter, and femi-
nist activist. She brings to the news-
letter her own special style and pungent
insights. We are fortunate to have
Manuscripts are eagerly solicited
from you readers out there! Contribu-
tions may be sent either to the editori-
al office at Governors State University
or directly to the editors of special
themes listed below:
Winter 1978: Women in Religion and
Phi losophy — articles on mythology of
women, primitive matriarchy, women in
the clergy, leaving an order or changing
one's "habit", et cetera; deadline
December 2 1 , 1977; Guest Editor: Rev.
ELLEN HARVELL DOHNER, 315 Wildwood,
Park Forest, I I. 60466.
Spring 1978: Women in Science —
as investigators, scholars, teachers,
collaborators with men, their contribu-
tions, et cetera; deadline March 21 , 1978;
Guest Editor: Dr. HELENE GUTTMAN, Office
of the Director, National Heart, Lung,
and Blood Institute, Bldg. 31/Rm. 5A33,
Bethesda, Md. 20014.
Summer, 1978: Women in Art — the
visual arts, the lives and works of
women both traditional and contemporary,
in articles, prints, photographs (we
hope to go into color for this one, if
funding is adequate); deadline June 21 ,
1978; Guest Editor: BETYE SAAR, 8074
Willow Glen, Hollywood, Ca. 90046.
Fall 1978: Politics and the Study
of Pol itics — women in political theory,
government, administration, public af-
fairs; deadline September 21 , 1978;
Guest Editor: Professor SARA SHUMER,
Haverford College, Haverford, Pa. 19041.
You see assembled here an impres-
sive array of talent, of brilliant and
creative women who are committed to
sharing their gifts and to encouraging
their sisters. But this newsletter will
only become a significant effort if you
our readers write, contribute your ideas
and your money, subscribe and recruit
new subscribers from your friends and
relations. We have the nucleus. Let's
THE MIND UNBOUND
The belief systems of our culture provide a certain amount of security to us as
individuals and as members of our culture. They also constrain and constrict our
thinking by serving as a form of foot-binding of the mind. There is the possibility
of permanent deformity.
Beliefs about the nature and role of women (and men) have been a powerful mind-
binder, a kind of Ace bandage on the brain. Some of us haven't started the unwrap-
ping process. We are content. Others of us cling desperately to our bindings,
snatching dirty discarded theories from others to maintain our fuzzy-headed condition,
plucking fresh assumptions out of thin air to patch the holes in our hypotheses. A
few of us are bouncing around half unwrapped, overflowing here, bulging in spots from
the sudden release of pressure. Onlookers may react with fright or rejoice with us
at our newly found vigor and creativity. When we trip over the dangling particles of
our forgotten bindings we pause to continue the stripping process.
As we unwind our bindings we notice retained impressions, interlocking patterns
and worn pathways. We apply soothing meditation, sprinkle some new concepts where
retardation is apparent and allow fresh images and bright visions to awaken dormant
We almost overlook the taboo patch. Can there still be unspeakable, unmention-
able thoughts? Heretofore unthinkable thoughts?
Picking through the discarded bindings we easily recognize the intense I y-hued
"truths" and the heavenly-blue beliefs. These, we notice, have colored our percep-
tions, bled onto what and who we value and stained our understanding of what we are
and what we can be.
As we sort the old wrappings for something worth saving we gently retrieve our
dearly beloved aesthetic standards. Surely, now that we have torn off the subjective
coverings of the old arbiters' findings and are discovering and reevaluating artists
and writers who have been overlooked, undervalued or forgotten, we can retain our
hard-won good taste and high standards. These, culture-bound though they be, are too
pure and lofty to have been contaminated by our old beliefs about the nature and role
of women. Defiantly we brush off the dust of the dust of the ages, rub our fingers
futilely over the dark spots and stuff our Beauty and Truth back into our minds.
Though a few loose ends dangle we are secure in the conviction that with a little trim-
ing, a few appliques and a touch-up here and there these old wrappings will serve us
well in the days to come.
Scooping up the rest of the bindings we jam them back into our old filing place
and leap with joy and abandon into the unknown future of our unbound minds.
Please send me The Creative Woman for one year. Enclosed is my check or money order
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CITY STATE ZIP
IMAGES OF BLACK WOMEN IN LITERATURE
Historically, the annals of the Black experience show that African-Americans
have constantly found themselves in a cultural climate which has created within their
minds a distorted and negative self image. This distortion has permeated our entire
being and has led to self-destructive attitudes and negative behavior which have
often prohibited us from achieving a worthwhile state of nationhood and unity. The
cultural environment has given continuous endorsement of and rationale for the treat-
ment of Black people and has perpetuated negative images of Black people.
The plight of the Black woman has been extremely dismal even in the context of
the overall Black experience in America. In the land of Puritan morality, where
white womanhood has been placed high on a pedestal, the Black woman has been accorded
neither honor for her womanhood nor respect for person. With no legal protection,
she was ever the prey of the salacious male, Black or white. Too often, in the past,
she was given choice neither of husband nor father of her children. It was to be
several decades after Emancipation before her position was greatly altered. It is a
tribute to her basic nobility that by dint of dogged, almost militant determination,
she has managed to achieve and successfully maintain a higher status.
Has the Black woman been depicted accurately in literature? Has she been clear-
ly defined and interpreted? Mary Helen Washington (1975) offers answers to these
queries in the Introduction to Black-Eyed Susan , a collection of short stories by and
about Black women. She points out that "Stereotypes about Black women abound like
weeds in this society." Professor Washington emphasizes the influence white media
have in creating perverted fantasies which evidence abuse of the Black woman's image.
She insists that this habitual abuse still persists:
...People other than the Black woman herself try to define who
she is, what she is supposed to look like, act like and
sound like. And most of these creations have very little
resemblance to real, live Black women.
Why is it, in a society where "Black is beautiful", that "Black women are beau-
tiful" has meaning only as a rhetorical exercise. Even as we bear in mind that
"Black is beautiful" has nothing to do with physical appearance, color still remains
a major factor in descriptions of attractiveness and unattracti veness. Although it
is known that there are individuals who are considered more attractive than others
in all races, color alone has, for a long time, determined that Blacks, particularly
Black women, were unattractive. The practice persists: Black women have been, and
still are, judged, by whites and Blacks alike, according to the Euro-American stand-
ard of beauty and femininity.
It is with the imposition of this and other negative images that the white man
began to divide, undo, and defeat us. The oppressor created an image of Black women
as morally loose and lascivious. The white man proceeded to carry out his deliberate
destruction of Black male-female relationships by raping Black women repeatedly and
convincing some Black men that Black women wanted to be raped and solicited rape.
Maul ana Ron Korenga (1975) points out in his article "In Love and Struggle: Toward a
Greater Togetherness" that "Historically black women and men have heroically fought
and resisted the white man's sexual war against Black women." Black men have died
to defend their women but the oppressor has methodically suppressed such history and
literature. Consequently, oftentimes we too wonder and doubt.
Calvin Herton (1965) in Sex and Racism states that:
The personality, or ego of the Negro woman is a product of
and a response to all of the American society. Among these
forces racism, or white supremacy, has had the most powerful
effect. . .
Not only has racism determined the way whites treat and conceive of the Black woman,
more importantly, it has shaped the way Black men treat and conceive of the Black
woman. The very attitudes that Black women have towards themselves are outgrowths of
racist propaganda. A tragic number of Black American women are haunted by a sense
of self-rejection. This rejection is basically attributed to the fact that they are
Black and have Black features and have been led to believe a propaganda of history
and literature in which they can find no glory or dignity for themselves as females.
We have a great task to achieve through our literature. Many myths - matriarchy,
immorality, ugliness, uncouthness - have been created by American literature to deni-
grate the Black woman and destroy her image, "to reduce to rubble and raw sex her
relationship with her man and to deny and cover up her contribution in our struggle
to be a free and creative people." (Henton, 1965) We can no longer afford to collab-
orate in, advocate, or permit the perpetuation of the blatantly vile and vulgar images
invented, imposed and disseminated by the oppressor.
Black people must create and construct their own myths. These myths must accu-
rately and positively reflect all aspects of the Black experience. The use of the
term "myth" is not to suggest that we must invent and impose lies. What it means is
that we must redefine and reinterpret the images of Blacks in literature.
We must dispel the image of the Black matriarch and revere and honor Black
womanhood. We must annihilate the image of the shiftless and irresponsible Black
man. We must crush the perpetuation of the images of the contented slave, the tragic
mulatto, the buffoon, the exotic primitive, the buck or brute, the wretched free
Black and the countless other demoralizing images in literature. Whether the white
literary critics were viewing those images as reflective truth or as stereotyping no
Our literature must say those vulgar images do not reflect our reality. We can-
not deny the existence of slavery and the role it played. Neither can our literature.
But we can define slavery and its victims from a Black perspective. So can our lit-
erature. Because the image of Black womanhood has been placed in the most distorted
perspective, our literature may begin here with the important task of myth building.
Hernton says that the historical and literary annals of man's inhumanity to
women have yet to record the epic of the Black woman's ordeal in America. We can
begin to shape and mold images of Black womanhood which positively depict and enhance
Black nationhood. Black women are just beginning to be appreciated as human beings,
as sexual creatures clothed in their own personal skins, as American citizens with
public rights and duties and as individuals with private longings and desires. The
change is just beginning and the beginning is tardy. The beginning must be recorded
in our I iterature.
If, as a Black people, we truly believe in the liberating forces of knowledge,
where do we gain knowledge of and insight about Black women? Franz Fanon (1965) has
said that the "success of any revolutionary struggle depends on the range and quality
of female participation, on women becoming women for action rather than exclusively
women for marriage and sex." Those persons who can best define Black women are Black
women. Yet, the writings of major Black women novelists are almost never taught in
American literature courses and are rarely mentioned in women's studies courses.
I cannot be so chauvinistic as to assume that only Black women can write about
Black women. I can not be so narrowminded as to assume that there is only one image
of Black womanhood. Black womanhood is many things to many people. All Black people
are not alike. All Black people do not have the same viewpoint or perspective even
when they use the same words. I would like to suggest, however, that our literary
pursuits focus upon content and content analysis that create and perpetuate positive
images of Blackness and Black womanhood.
If literary content reflects current attitudes, images and definitions of Black
womanhood from a Black, and, more importantly, a Black female perspective, then we
are achieving our goal in literature no matter who or what the author may be. Black
women writers can provide leadership roles in this endeavor. Through our literature
we can teach a new vision of Black revolution and freedom. We can teach new values
and appreciation for the human personality regardless of sex. Through our literature
we can teach respect and honor for Black womanhood.
Alma Wal ker-Vinyard University Professor of English Governors State University
Fanon, Franz. Wretched of the Earth . New York: Grove Press, 1965.
Hernton, Calvin C. Sex and Racism in America . New York: Grove Press, 1965.
Karenga, Maulana Ron. "In Love and Struggle: Towards a Greater Togetherness"
Black Scholar . March, 1975, Vol. 6, No. 6.
Washington, Mary Helen. Black-Eyed Susan . Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
is a cavernous
chi I led wind
whist I ing to
through the frozen
Emi ly Wasiolek
Driving in the late afternoon
through cornfields no longer light
I see armies of women, caught in the wind
these straight rows of cornshocks
are marching under somber skies.
Their mural of shadows moving
on the ground, dying with the dusk.
I am watching my mother die.
In her delirium she calls me
by the name of her pet dog.
We two are frightened by the
death at hand and in our hearts.
This is the final atmosphere
more rarified than any.
It is my turn as I bend over you
to offer last consolation,
bringing you into my arms
for now it is clear we are dying together.
I see blood in my future.
Not the blood of war
not special blood
I see blood smeared on the
side of my head,
coming from my shattered skull
open and bleeding.
This blood is no accident.
Nor is this stickiness
new blood — someone else's.
By it I am forewarned that
I must be ready
and beware the traitor in my mind
who enters unannounced
to bear these frightening visions.
(In response to a poem by Adrienne Rich)
"Certain words occur; enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know she's a woman of
my 1 1 me ... "
But sitting down another time
you might have seen
"Listen, telephone, anger..."
and were reminded that to say
"Listen" is to hear
the silence of countless waiting women
eager to hear what they now
most certainly will tell each other.
We remind ourselves that we live in this
other world, unheralded and out of print.
I see your breath escaping,
a chain of silvery globes rising above you,
and I turn, for I have touched just now,
and I strain for that strange and
shaking world above.
1st Woman: You look ill. What's the matter?
2nd Woman: I'm not feeling well.
1st Woman: Do you have any of the following symptoms? Do you:
Pause in the middle of dusting the upstairs bedroom, open the window and
shout "Help, they're holding me prisoner."?
Write all the bad news in your letters in reverse because you can't
bear to relate sad tidings?
Wag your tai I at dogs?
Take a hamburger into the health food restaurant when you meet your
friends there for lunch?
or are you:
A secret super heroine?
A compulsive daydreamer?
A chain dieter?
A habitual server of pie in the sky?
2nd Woman: That all applies to me? What's wrong with me?
1st Woman: I think you've got a bad case of creativity. I have an idea.
2nd Woman: How much did it cost?
1st Woman: Ideas are free. Creativity is dear.
2nd Woman: Are the union dues that high?
1st Woman: There is no creativity union. When you're creative people tend to
try to take chunks out of you. So your creativity becomes dear.
2nd Woman: I don't see any notches in you.
1st Woman: I'm not very creative. I'm only internationally famous on my own
2nd Woman: Do you really think I might be a creative woman?
1st Woman: It sounds like you are a creative woman and are not aware of it.
2nd Woman: I had a baby last year.
1st Woman: That's reproduction. There's nothing creative about having a baby,
but you can raise a child creatively.
2nd Woman: Is there a cure for creativity?
1st Woman: It's an incurable condition. All you can do is alleviate it by
developing it and using it.
2nd Woman: Where is a creativity col lege and how much is tuition?
1st Woman: Write to 000 Imagination Drive, Originality, A. P.O. World. Tuition
is curiosity, listening, sensitivity and time.
2nd Woman: What type of degree is conferred?
1st Woman: Degrees. Degrees of awareness and development and knowledge which can
build reserves for future creativity.
2nd Woman: Who are the instructors in creativity?
1st Woman: Humankind is the reference book, creativity is primarily a self
2nd Woman: Is there a requisite for admission or a timeline for completion of
1st Woman: You can be creative at any time. Completion is on demand. Whenever
someone says - "O.K., be creative" they expect you to comply so you
need to compile a creative library complete with catalog and index.
Then when someone says: "Be creative about hangnails." or "Be creative
about soup." or "Be creative about lice." you know right where to look
to find their particular kind of creativity.
2nd Woman: What are the rewards of creativity?
1st Woman: Sometimes money. Sometimes recognition. Usually personal satisfaction.
Always relief through expression. Encouragement. Joy in helping others
develop their creativity. Sometimes posthumous, which really does not
do you a lot of good. We are sustained by creativity but we do not live
by it alone - let's go eat lunch.
Al is El lis
square into circle,
part into whole,
words into feel ing ...
I've been to the woods once
and have never returned
After the Amazon sang
tough tones strong songs,
fibrous and healthy powerful proud
some of us met,
two, cackl ing
crack I ing fire-coals
hard heated circles for eyes
the nymph, the high priestess
that trailed behind them from their mouths
as they spoke as they walked
we two were enraptured
encaptured in their spell-
binding thoughtforms into feelingforms
letting go letting go
we fol lowed,
trusting wimmin-chi Idren,
like sisters telling ghost stories
secret syllables in noisy beds
and our lives came round the circle,
back to innocence back to caring,
and the rain crashed into lightning
and the lights fled just for candles
and we carried them different colors,
as the lover then, loving led us
through the dark ways wondrous dark ways
ways forbidden us many centuries
and our lives came round- the circle
as she conjured and we joined her
past the oak trees through the meadow
through the bird cries, through their laughtj
shrill soundings, hags we were then
weird sisters charming meanings
to hold on to, of our mothers
and their daughters burned for healing
burned for touching, burned for loving
other wimmin who had powers
who had knowledge who had wisdom
who had vision who had circles
and our lives go round the circle
misted forest all alone now
just we wimmin in and out go
through each other without speaking
slowly swaying she starts singing
I'm afraid then never knowing
of my feelings let it go now
come and join us in the circle
as we dance there charming wishes
near the water light the candles
stand around them arms embracing
and the daughter next beside me
in our blanket wrapped together
says she's happy knowing others
who can feel her Mother Wonder
in the forest in the night air
in the water in the moonlight
and our lives went round the circle
and we shouted many tears out
and we whispered many dreamings
and the trees must hear our anger
and our pleasure and our challenge
and the sister writes on paper
what she wishes what she dares for
then we watch the morning lifting
and our candles can be carefree
and we throw them to the water
and she ripples as we touch them
and we feel what we have done there
we have broken through the bramble
and have crafted sister sirens
from the ages long before us
while we planted newer wimmin
in the soft soil seeds are starting
and our lives go round the circle
we have finished what we've started
and the moon rests for a time then
as we walk home silent sleepy
and our lives went round the circle
and we love on never stopping
and we glide with newer knowing
in our journey to each other
and we live on never stopping
and our lives go round the circle
and our lives go round the circle . .
I've been to the woods once
and have never returned
bi rdf ish
IS THERE A FEMINIST CRITICISM OF LITERATURE?
Because someone I loved and respected gave me Tolkien's Lord of the Rings , I
spent hours in Middle Earth, alternately enchanted, bemused, or annoyed. Why did I
have the feeling that I had inadvertently stumbled on a boys' secret clubhouse in
the woods, where from time to time someone would break into rhyme and song that
seemed to be About Something, but wasn't? Why was the only female character the
single fantasy figure, Fair Lady Goldberry, idealized and sexless? Why is the whole
story sexless. Could it be the dream of a young boy, nearing yet fearing his ado-
lescence? It seemed clearer when I reached the"end of Part Two, and met the only
other female character — Shelob, "the evil thing in spider form. . .drinking the blood
of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat, weaving webs of shadow, for all living things
were her food and her vomit darkness". There we have the archetypal witch, the Bad
Mother. I never read Part Three. But the musical lilt of the magic rhyme lost some
of its charm for me, as I reinterpreted:
"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them.
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
Is this feminist criticism or only a female reaction?
When Edmund Wilson describes Kate Chapin's novel The Awakening as a story of lust,
and I know it is nothing of the kind, but is a record of courage, self-assertion and
her breakthrough into independence, am I doing "feminist criticism", or only exercis-
ing female "consciousness"? Carolyn Rhodes, of Old Dominion University in Norfolk,
Virginia, has assembled a reading list on feminist criticism and feminist criticism
of science fiction. She cites as the foremothers: Mary Wol I stonecraft Shelley, Margaret
Fuller, Susan B. Anthony, Virginia Woolf; and as twentieth century spokeswomen, Betty
Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Mary Ellman and Germaine Greer. What is required, she
writes, is "an exploration of ideologies, not only feminist ideologies but the under-
lying assumptions of current literary critics, current religious institutions, current
theories of conversion, current social scientists".
For our readers who wish more than a brief acquaintance with the question posed,
Professor Rhodes will send a reading list.
THE FOUR QUEENS
Women authors have been particularly successful in writing detective fiction.
Their work has not been of the "hard-boiled" school, but rather, exciting yet gentle
stories with ingenious plots, brilliant detectives and a wealth of local color in the
Conan Doyle manner. Most frequently the hero or heroine detective unravels the mys-
tery by understanding the personality of the criminal and the tangled emotional
states of her characters, and by intuition as well as deduction.
One critic has said, "The four queens — Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham,
Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh — represent the best in detective fiction from the
1920s to the present day". Their work has never been surpassed (taken as a whole)
but there are many women following their lead: Charity Blackstock, Patricia Moyes,
Emma Lathem (actually two women), Joyce Porter, Dell Shannon, Charlotte Armstrong,
and many others.
It seems to me these women are assuring us that we can admire intellectual deduc-
tion, be thrilled to participate, as it were, in the discovery and apprehension of
the criminal, yet not be exposed to violence, sadism and brutal sex scenes in order
to be entertained.
We made love
in Dubuque, la.
with a hotel towel beneath us
to protect our secret
from the anonymous eyes
of the maid.
We made love
on the third floor
of the Julien Motor Inn
in room 323
with moderate success
come of a certain sustained intent
and a tolerance for familiar landscapes.
And then he slept.
Night moths slapped
chalk wings against the street
clustered in a cold light:
instinct - blind, unburned
and implacably repelled.
She dwells in ordered rooms,
spinning out her days
in trusting expectation.
She has wrapped his lost visions
in prudent tissue,
tied symmetrica My.
Al I questions answered, long assumed
warm her hearth.
by my rash desertion
of her careful logic:
a turned back.
she offers blind prayers for my salvation,
DOOR COUNTY TWILIGHT
si I ken sky
buttoning the night against
the ragged clouds
driven across its face
fpurtflmq /fate? i&ftfi TJicr/irTIiorYiSoK /975~
A blue sedan sped along Route 34. Its driver, a woman in her thirties, stared
intently at the road. She didn't smile. Her day half over, she had performed a
series of sleep-walking house duties. She was now rehearsing the remainder of her day.
She went over it and over it, not caring, not feeling involved, for she wasn't. She
lived on the periphery. All she knew was that she had escaped so far. She knew she
still maintained a hold, a fragile hold on life. The rehearsal continued.
Voon locked. ..did I tuAn o^ the kitchen light? ... yeA t going to th<i bank, need
to Atop to mail, phono, bWL, I must nememben to call and check on that appointment. . .
The light ahead turned red. A line of cars began to come to a stop. The forest
preserve trees, their branches curving and twisting, sprang into view.
My God - I'm at WeAtenn - alAeidy - waAn't even thinking - dniving along - good
God did I Atop at the last Aignt Could have gone ntght. . .
A car horn honked. The light turned green. Cars poured into the crowded inter-
section from nowhere. Turn signals flashed.
Woman kilted in bloody auto cAash. Can. demolished, face unidentifiable.
She maneuvered the car across the intersection. Her gloved hands clutched the
wheel. The rear view mirror framed a car speeding close to her auto's rearend.
"Damn fool - get off my tail."
The car radio stated the time and weather - 3:30 - wind chill factor ten below
zero. She swal lowed. Her throat felt sore. She was afraid of that. Too much run-
ning around in cold weather.
As she swung the car back onto the main street she considered herself clever be-
cause she had been able to drive in and out of the bank drive-up in five minutes. The
radio announced the time.
Mail bills, go to the gnoceny Atone - Aememben to bay meat £on Satunday'A dinnen.
CanZ and, Canole, what do they eatl . . .
"Damn. Hurry up fool - get on with it."
The older driver in front of her finally turned into the gas station - she sped
hurriedly around him, braking heavily at the next stop sign.
The parking lot was a mass of moving cars, people.
"Fight for a place to park as usual."
Helen slid the car into a space.
Have to get the can washed. No time.
An angry mother pulled her son along by the arm, shoving a loaded shopping cart
in front of her. Her hair blew across her face. She dropped her son's arm to clear
the hair from her eyes - her son ran ahead of her - she yelled.
A slight red-haired woman, a cavernous bag hanging from her shoulder, her black
wool slacks flopping around her angles tugged on Helen's arm just inside the electric
door. In a flurry of carts and people they found a square foot of unoccupied tile
floor and exchanged a few words. Helen was agitated. She didn't hear what the woman
was saying - the woman never said anything, she would only make Helen late. Helen ad-
justed her scarf and took off her gloves. An older woman tottered into her trying to
push a shopping cart. The older woman smelled.
The trivial conversation continued - the woman complained about something. Helen
watched the old woman finally turn her cart toward the electric door and work her
way outside. A rush of cold air - the door clicked shut.
Olden woman hound dead in apantment. No one to caAe ion hen.. ..cold and Atanva-
tion wene. . .
Her friend was saying goodbye. Helen forced her face into a hearty smile and
jabbered on about how nice it had been to see the woman. They parted.
That old woman pnobably had no intends...
She was tired. Groceries were far too expensive. It was colder now. Her throat
ached. Darkness was settling fast. She strained to see out the window as she backed
out of her parking space.
A Ac/iexum and cAa&h pi&iczd tho, ain. ab a woman inAtantty klttdd a AmalZ boy and
kit> mothoA ai> t>k& backed out oi hoA polking hpacz. The. woman mu ohAQAtud.
She carefully backed out of her parking space. Cars lined up to exit into the
main street. Helen fidgeted. The traffic moved.
She sped along toward the train station. At the next crowded intersection a
jumble of people moved among the cars to cross the street. They were laborers from
the factory - loud, laughing. In the glare of the car headlights and street lights
she stared at them - blacks, whites, young, old, loud women, louder men. She looked
at the lock on the door across from her.
A woman wai> abdactud by a man who jumped into thz teat bzAide. koA at a Atop
6ign and haZd a knifiz -
With a shiver she followed the stream of cars through the intersection. She
relaxed. The car radio gave the time. She wouldn't be late for Phil's train.
"Damn, forgot to mail that bill."
She accelerated - maybe she'd have time before meeting Phil's train.
Arriving at the station she parked along a side street where a long line of
wives waited for husbands. She kept the car running. She was still cold. It was
dark. She amused herself by watching the train track for Phil's train. Finally a
train horn blast, a bright light, noise, and the train slid into the station belch-
ing out scores of people who ran and hurried in all directions. Helen sighed - al-
most contented. Phil could drive. She would relax and they would talk. She waited.
The train pulled away. Cars all around her were leaving. She waited. Phil was
late. The next train would come in ten minutes. She sat back, dropping her hands
from the wheel. A man came along the street. He walked quickly. Helen smiled -
then leaned forward straining her eyes into the darkness. Phil - Is it Phil? - She
was frightened - not to be able to recognize her own husband. A car passed by. The
man headed toward her. He walked past the car and crossed the street. He continued
A woman wai> bnutalZy napud in hoA qjoa by a man. Ske. wo* waiting ion. keA husband.
He wuzji camn.
She shivered again. The radio gave the time and the news began:
"...man shot in robbery on the north side of the city..."
Helen watched the train track.
"...two children burned in fire..."
She thought that maybe Phil would be on the next train - but maybe he
had tried to cal I her - she wasn't home.
"...and a woman was found stabbed to death in an alley behind her home.
Police are tring to determine if she had been -"
Helen snapped off the radio. She clutched the steering wheel and looked around
her. She was cold, tired - she tried to tell herself that that's all it was. She
strained through the window. There weren't as many men in black overcoats now -
surely she would recognize her own husband even in the darkness. Tears crept into
her eyes; she swallowed.
Phil waved as he approached the car. She unlocked the driver's door and slid
over. He opened the door hurriedly, throwing his attache case on the back seat.
Cold air f i I led the car.
"Hell, Hon, you don't have to worry and lock the door all the time! How are ya,
He put the car in gear and quickly moved into the street. He smiled but he
didn't really look at her.
"Oh, I'm just fine."
"Good. I'm bushed. Need a good dinner ....What did ya do today?"
"Well - the grocery shopping and-"
"Good. How much?"
"Oh sixty dollars or so - you know the party Saturday night..."
"He I I yes."
He turned on the radio.
"Want to catch the news."
"...a three year old child was beaten to death by her mother's
boyfriend. . .
...2300 people were laid off at the Radcliffe Factory today..."
Phil drove hurriedly along. Helen watched him. He maneuvered the car easily,
was quick, alert. But she didn't have to watch him to know this. He looked over
her and smi led. The radio droned on.
"I'm glad you had an easy day Hon, I had a terrible day; ya see Ha I per wanted
cl ient. . ."
She didn't hear him. She felt on the seat beside her for her purse. Yes, it
was still there. She looked out the front window of the car. She imagined that a
car approaching them in the other lane careened across the line smashing into them
head on. The car passed by. She remembered she had forgotten to mail the phone bi I
El izabeth A. Havey
WHERE TO GET IT: Update
Paid My Dues - Quarterly journal of women and music.
New mailing address: P. 0. Box 6517, Chicago, Illinois 60680
itiky not give. youx cAzatlvz ^fvLzncU a. Aub&csiiption to Ciejativz Woman ion. thz Hotidayt?
UNDER THE MILKING STOOL
The Reconstruction of an Elizabethan Folk Tune
As we know, the songs sung by women had to be worded carefully. A bald state-
ment of fact, a bent for satire or a hint of iconoclasm was likely to draw down upon
oneself the wrath of the community. It was not unusual to "dee an aid maide" (often
from starvation, since survival itself depended on the good will of men) or to be
burned at the stake.
Nevertheless, women could, and did, use song to communicate with each other
through words and phrases whose meaning was known only to the female sub-culture.
Some songs, more explicitly worded, were only sung in all-female gatherings and passed
down from mother to daughter.
Many women's songs, as they were picked up and passed on by members of the domin-
ant culture, were distorted beyond recognition. Whole phrases, and the patterning
which was important to the meaning, were dropped or changed. Verses were rejected or
rewritten to fit the bias of the singer. In comparatively recent years the collector
of folk songs (even when entrusted with a woman's song previously hidden) would ignore
"meaningless" phrases and reject versions of a song, or a particular verse, as "non-
"Must I Go Bound While...", attributed to the Elizabethan era was believed to be
a common (if unusually pithy) lament, a tale of unrequited love. The following version
has been reconstructed from clues found in the orthodox versions and from recently
discovered fragments and lines. (Sources include an inscription on a stone found to be
the sill support from the window of a castle tower, fragments in a diary interpreting
certain cryptic carvings on the underside of a milking stool, which had been handed
down from mother to daughter for several generations, and a translation from the
druidic symbols carved in the crook of a shepherdess.)
MUST I GO BOUND
Must I go bound while you go free
Must I live a life of misery
Must I then play a losing game
And live a lie that has no name
Must one be weak and one be strong
Must one be right and one be wrong
Must I be blind and I not see
That custom binds and words decree
Must I (be) the one to wear the shame
Must I (be) the one that gets the blame
Must I bear fault and fault again
For shame that's in the heart of men
Exerpted fro m UP FROM UNDER THE
MILKING STOOL, a new musicology
by Haroldine Ch i I de
WOMEN IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
What's the difference between
a girl and a boy?
That one is a girl and the
other's a boy.
What is it that's the same
for a girl and a boy?
More than some people think.
. . . I'm L i ke Me by
Studies have shown that children's
books tend to feature boys in the major
roles. Historically, females were ste-
reotyped as being passive, dependent,
and ineffectual while boys were aggres-
sive, independent and forceful. Studies
also showed that girls read books about
boys, while boys didn't like books about-
girls. Children preferred books that
were action filled, and because it was
permissible for boys to be involved in
all sorts of daring adventures while
girls had to remain demurely in the back-
ground, it was no wonder that the major-
ity of books written for children had a
male as the main character. Naturally,
with economics and social mores in mind,
publishers chose books predominately
male in tone while authors and illustra-
tors obliged by creating stories with
male heroes human and animal. It is not
difficult to find numerous picture books
showing Momma Bear in apron drying the
dishes while Papa Bear, with pipe and
slippers, reclines in his easy chair.
Why have the Nancy Drew series con-
tinued to be so popular with young girls
for almost 50 years? Though not great
literature, Nancy is depicted as an in-
dependent, enterprising teenager who
solves one mystery after another. Young
girls love the adventure and secretly
imagine themselves fearless and brave,
solving the mysteries themselves. After
all, in books about the past, how many
female characters like Tom Sawyer, Huck
Finn or Jim Hawkins could a girl relate
to other than Alice in Adventures in
Wonder I and or Through the Looking Glass ,
Dorothy in The Wizard of Qz, or Jo in
Little Women - not too many. Is it no
wonder then, that the Nancy Drew series
had so many readers?
How many mothers in children's
books worked? If a female did hold a
job, it was either as teacher, nurse or
secretary and those women were usually
single - a mother's place was in the
home! Today, thanks to many women's
groups, children's book publishers are
being made aware of the sexist image
women have had in books and we are be-
ginning to see stories reflecting women
as individuals. Girls are being de-
picted as brave and independent while a
boy is not called a sissy for being gen-
tle and sensitive. Wi I I jam's Pol I by
Charlotte Zoloto (1972) is a tender
story of how a I ittle boy wants a do I I
but his request at first is refused by
his father, who feels he will be ridi-
culed by other children. This book con-
tinues to be the brunt of jokes by both
boys and girls when first read in class,
but with intelligent discussion, young
children can be made to understand that
there is nothing wrong with a boy want-
ing to play with a doll. Today many
parents share childrearing and we even
find some fathers who are raising their
children alone. No one ever made fun of
a little boy hugging his teddy bear.
( Velveteen Rabbit , 1926 or Winnie the
Pooh, 1926) so why the fuss over a dol I?
Several excellent stories show
girls as resourceful, brave and coura-
geous. Karana, a twelve-year-old Indian
girl , is the sole survivor on a deserted
island for eighteen years in Scott
0' De I I ' s The Island of the Blue Dolphin ,
1961 Newbery Award (outstanding child-
ren's book of the year as selected by
the Children's Service Committee of the
American Library Association). Julie of
the Wolves by Jean Craighead, the 1973
Newbery Award, is another story of a
courageous girl who survives alone the
North Slope of Alaska and learns to com-
municate with the wolves, who in turn
help her survive. Although not a New-
bery winner, a modern fantasy, Char-
lotte's Web by E. B. White (1952) has
become a classic and must be rated as
one of the outstanding children's books
of all time, beloved by adults and chil-
dren alike. Charlotte A Cavatica is a
highly intelligent, shrewd, and loyal
spider who saves her good friend, Wilbur,
from becoming ham and bacon by spinning
the words "some pig," "terrific," "radi-
ant" and "humble" in her web. Louise
Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy (1964) por-
trays a highly individualistic heroine
who wants to be a great writer. Claudia
in E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed Up
Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwei ler, the
1968 Newbery Award, takes the initiative
in devising a plan for herself and her
brother to escape from their house in
the suburbs to the Metropolitan Museum
in New York. Naomi by Be mice Rabe
(1975) is about a farm girl in Missouri
in the late 1930's who rejects the idea
of marriage at the age of fourteen, the
custom in her area, and decides to be-
come a doctor.
In the article "Sexual Bias in Sci-
ence Fiction for Children", Janice Tate
notes that science fiction has tradition-
al ly been considered "boy's literature"
and the characters have been mainly
white, middle class males. However, one
exception is a marvelous science fiction
tale and the 1963 Newbery Award, A Wrin-
kle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Meg
leads the search for her missing father
by traveling through space by means of
a tesseract (a wrinkle in space). All
the characters in this imaginative story
are highly individualistic - Charles
Wallace is Meg's precocious five-year-old
brother, Mrs. Murray, Meg's mother is a
scientist with a doctor's degree in bi-
ology and bacteriology while Meg's father
is a brilliant scientist.
Mothers are no longer depicted as
stereotyped, contented housewives in a-
prons. There are mother dentists, sci-
entists, writers, artists, lawyers and
students. Some mothers are separated,
widowed or divorced while others have
never married like Brett's unmarried
mother in the candid, contemporary story
by Norma Klein, Mom, the Wolf Man and Me
Picture books too, are providing an
important source to acquaint young chil-
dren with appropriate sex role behavior.
Again boys predominate as a study of
Caldecott Awards (distinguished picture
book of the year as selected by the
Children's Service Committee of the Amer-
ican Library Association) from 1953 to
1971 showed there were 261 pictures of
males and only 23 pictures of females - a
ratio of I I to I and the ratio of male to
female animals was an unbe livable 95 to I.
Some non-sexist picture books include
Don't You Remember by Luc i I I e C I i f ton
(1973) about Tate, a black four-year-old
who wants to work in the plant just like
her daddy, and Fireqi rl (1972) by Gibson
Rich the story of Brenda, a little girl
who wants to become a firefighter but en-
counters opposition when her father tells
her that only boys can be firemen. Pic-
ture books are beginning to show females
in occupations that have been stereotyped
as male. Joel Rothman's I Can be Anything
(1973), Eve Merriam's Mommies at Work,
and Joe Lasker's Mothers Can Do Anything
(1972) show mothers as pilots, doctors,
automobile assemblers and builders of
bridges. My Doctor (1973) by Harlow Rock-
well, presents a little boy's visit to a
female doctor. Career books for older
children include women geologists, veter-
inarians and lawyers. Besides fiction,
there are excellent biographies and auto-
biographies about courageous women, al-
though here again there are considerably
more stories of men than of women (see
Dick and Jane as Victims, issued by Women
on Words and Images). A few of the more
memorable females are Ann Frank in The
Diary of a Young Girl (1951), Harriet
Tubman in Harriet and the Promised Land
and Helen Kel ler: Toward the Light . Col-
lections of great women are also being
compi led, books such as Famous American
Women (1970) by Hope Stoddard and An Al-
bum of Women in American History (1972)
by Clair Ingraham are two such works.
Several years ago the National Edu-
cation Association published a pamphlet
entitled A Child's Right to Equal Reading
by Verne Moberg which examines the pat-
terns of sexual stereotyping in children's
books and the ways in which they reinforce
inequality. The pamphlet also suggests
methods to conduct community workshops
with parents, teachers, administrators and
librarians to investigate ways in which
sexual stereotypes in books affect chil-
dren. Some of the questions that NEA en-
courages their work participants to ask
themselves when analyzing books include:
Which kinds of activities and feelings
Governors State University
Park Forest South, IL 60466
U. S. Postage Paid
Park Forest South, IL
do books permit or prohibit for girls
and boys? In the roles presented,
are boys allowed to cry? Girls to be
adventurous? Are boys as well as
girls encouraged to care for younger
children? May girls be physically
strong, or exercise intellectual curi-
How many fathers in the books wear
aprons? How many mothers work out-
side the home? Are boys ever de-
scribed as being especially emotion-
al? Do any boys dream of getting
married one day? Are there girls who
want to be plumbers or architects?
Does the author seem sympathetic to
individuals in these atypical roles?
Does he respect them?
Remember, it is not necessary to
stop using certain books just because
they are considered sexist, but be pre-
pared to discuss the book's bias with
the children. Be aware of publications
that list non-sexist books and discuss
sex- role stereotyping (see references
at the end of this article). Children's
book publishers are only recently re-
sponding to the cries of the Women's
Movement. As parents, educators and
librarians, it is our responsibility to
identify stereotypes in our children's
books whether sexist or racist.
Librarian and University Professor
of Literature for Children
Governors State University
Adel, Judith and Hilary Dale Klein. A
Guide to Non-Sexist Children's Books,
Chicago: Academy Press Ltd., 1976.
Any Child Can! Preliminary Annotated
List of Non-Sexist Books for Children .
San Diego: Nation Organization for
Bernstein, Joanne. "The Changing Roles
of Females in Books for Young Chil-
dren." Reading Teacher , (March 1974)
Cusick, Judy comp. A Resource List for
Non-Sex?st Education, National Founda-
tion for the Improvement in Education
Washington: National Foundation for
the Improvement in Education, 1976.
Dick and Jane as Victims . Princeton,
N.J.: Women on Words and Images, 1972.
Guidelines for Improving the Image of
Women in Textbooks . Glenview, II.:
A Bib I iog-
Scott Foresman and
Little Miss Muffet Fights Back
raphy of Recommended Non-Sexist Books
About Girls for Young Readers . Revised
edition. New York: Feminist on Chil-
dren's Media, 1974.
Moberg, Verne. A Child's Right to Equal
Reading . Washington: National Educa-
tion Association, (1972?).
Sadker, Myra Pollack and David Miller
Sadker, Now Upon a Time: A Contempor-
ary View of Children's Literature .
New York: Harper & Row, 1977.
Tate, Janice M. "Sexual Bias in Science
Fiction for Children." Elementary
English, 50, No. 7 (Oct. 1973) 1061-